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  • Writer's picturePamela Lawton

Elephants, Dogs, and Wizards

Edinburgh is an endlessly amazing city---so much history and so much to discover. I had not realized what a literary place it was before coming here. Writers, poets, and Second-hand bookstores abound---an ideal spot for my altered book community art project. For fans of Harry Potter and Jaime and Claire Fraser (Outlander) there are lots of sites to visit. The Elephant House Cafe, where I had tea with a friend yesterday, is the spot where J.K. Rowling created the wizarding world and its iconic characters. In a way it reminded me of 'Tom's Restaurant' near my apartment in NYC--the hangout of Jerry Seinfeld and his friends and highlight of bus tours hosted by the real life 'Kramer.' Tour groups were constantly in an out of the Elephant House, but despite the notoriety it was a welcoming spot for tea and scones.

As I walked from campus to the cafe, I passed Greyfriars' Bobby--a small bronze statue of a scrappy and faithful Skye terrier. I'm a dog lover and Bobby's story touched me deeply. As the story goes Bobby's human, John Gray, was a night watchman for the Edinburgh City Police. Bobby accompanied John on his rounds. They were inseparable for two years. Sadly John passed away from tuberculosis in 1858. He was buried in the cemetery at Greyfriars Kirk. Bobby led the funeral procession. After the funeral, Bobby refused to leave and tried to sit guard at John's grave. Dogs were not allowed in the cemetery and despite being chased away by the keeper of the kirk yard, Bobby returned each day. His devotion to his deceased master won him friends who built a small shelter for him in the kirk yard. Each day at the firing of the 1:00 canon from Edinburgh Castle (Eric and I witnessed the firing in January), Bobby would leave his post at the gravesite and go to the pub John frequented for a meal. After his meal he would return to his post and did so faithfully for 14 years until his death at age 16. Bobby is buried in the cemetery not far from John.

After tea Shana and I visited Greyfriars cemetery and saw Bobby's grave and one other--that of Tom Riddle (Voldemort, or he who shall not be named). Apparently J.K. Rowling also visited this cemetery, burial place of many notable Edinburgh residents since the late 16th century and found the name on this gravesite ideal for her stories.

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